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Game Day #54: Kings @ Coyotes Preview

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Beggars can't be choosers and blah blah, but how about more than one goal tonight? Please?

Doan has a funny-looking face. I'm not alone here, am I?
Doan has a funny-looking face. I'm not alone here, am I?
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Spor

Los Angeles Kings vs. Phoenix Coyotes (Jobing.com Arena) (lol)

Time: 6:00 pm

TV: Fox Sports West

Enemy readingFive for Howling

Coyotes (projected) lineup:

Korpikoski-Vermette-Boedker
Doan-Hanzal-Vrbata
Klinkhammer-Ribeiro-Moss
Bissonnette-Chipchura-Halpern

Ekman-Larsson-Michalek
Yandle-Morris
Schlemko-Murphy

Greiss

Injured: As far as I can tell, nobody. Scratched: Tim Kennedy, David Rundblad, Michael Stone

Kings (projected) lineup:

King-Kopitar-Carter
Brown-Richards-Williams
Clifford-Stoll-Lewis
Nolan-Fraser-Toffoli

Muzzin-Doughty
Regehr-Voynov
Mitchell-Greene

Quick

Injured: Alec Martinez; Scratched: Matt Frattin, Jeff Schultz

Game Notes:

  • With the Kings finally breaking their 5-game losing streak last night (while not solving their goalless problems at all), expect virtually the same lineup tonight in Phoenix. Unfortunately that probably includes Jonathan Quick in goal again, as Sutter had indicated prior to this back-to-back that Quick would likely play both games, and pitching a shutout is unlikely to do much to change his mind. Of course, it's almost always a better idea to play the backup in night 2 of back-to-backs (as we most recently saw in Vancouver last night), but c'est la vie.
  • The Coyotes are not good, nope not at all. They had a decent start to the season, but they've seen their once red-hot shooting percentage decline (7.7% at 5v5, 16th) and that's probably been the difference, as they've piled up losing week after losing week for more than a month now. The Coyotes are still pretty good at generating shots on goal- 31.0 shots for/60 at 5v5, which is actually slightly ahead of LA's 30.6 shots for/60 (they're fifth and sixth in the league, by the way), but they also give up almost as many shots as they take. 30.5 shots against/60, to be exact, which puts them at a rather dismal 23rd. LA, on the other hand, only gives up 25.8 shots against/60 at 5v5, placing them 3rd in the league.
  • As far as #fancystats go, the Yotes are just OK. They're controlling 51% of shot attempts at even strength (12th), but just 50.3% of unblocked attempts (16th). In score close situations, both those numbers decline quite a bit. The Yotes drop to 49.2% of all shot attempts (18th) and 49.4% of unblocked attempts (also 18th) in score close situations. LA is of course leading both categories, as I'm sure you're all sick of hearing about by now. Hopefully it will lead to goals at some point.
  • Mike Smith isn't starting tonight, which kinda sucks because he's been pretty bad of late. Gave up 5 goals on 25 shots in Vancouver, played pretty well in Edmonton (3 goals on 39 shots), but gave up 3 goals on 29 shots in Calgary. My friend is a Coyotes fan (why? I don't know) and his personal theory on Smith is "if he faces a ton of shots, he's really good. if he faces less shots, he sucks ass". But I guess that doesn't matter because he's not playing tonight. Instead it's Thomas Greiss, who's had a good season (.929 sv% in 12 games) and is probably due for some regression, but it's a backup goalie against the Kings so I doubt it happens tonight.
  • I mentioned the Yotes have not had a good go of it in results of late, and they've been sitting in 3rd in the Wild Card (5th in the Pacific) for what seems like an eternity now. They're 4-8-1 so far in January, although do have a tiny little two game points streak going (barely held on to beat Edmonton 4-3 after getting out to a 4-0 lead, then lost in Vancouver 5-4 in OT on Sunday). Tonight is the start of a five-game homestand for them, and they really need to make something out of this if they want to stay in the race. There's a number of teams behind them who they were once far ahead of who have pulled within a few points. Dallas is now just two points back, Winnipeg three, Nashville four. It's tightened up considerably for them, and they need to start stringing some wins together if they want to catch Minnesota (four points ahead, though the Yotes do have two games in hand) rather than watch as someone else passes them by and does it first.
  • The Kings were helped out a little in their own standings situation by the Oilers last night, who somehow beat the Canucks 3-2 in regulation, in Vancouver to boot. That opens up a 3-point gap on the Canucks for that 3rd seed, and it would certainly be nice if the Kings could make it 5 tonight and start working with some breathing room again heading into the Olympic break. Of course, the Sharks are still out there, but even with last night's win that's still an 8-point gap for the second seed, so perhaps it's not worth paying much attention to for now.
  • Prediction: Kings win, 3-2. Goals by Kopitar, Carter, and Toffoli. Why the hell not? Go Kings.